Keto diet is a high-fat, low-carb diet that caters to moderate protein intake. The diet is often associated with food from animal sources, so going keto while being vegetarian may not seem an option.
However, that is a myth. Keto diet is doable for people with vegan lifestyles.
Sure it may require some more effort to devise meals that compensate for the animal proteins (not a preference for vegans) but plant-based keto dietary choices are available.
Some vegans may find it difficult to follow the low-carb dietary schedule while shifting to a ketogenic routine. Again, knowing your options and taking a smart approach enables one to benefit from the two dietary regimes; keto and vegetarianism.
So if you are a vegan trying to earn some keto points or vice versa, read on to know how you can simultaneously merge the two diets.
What Is A Vegan Keto Diet?
Vegan and Keto dietary lifestyles are two individual regimes, each with its own sets of benefits. While some people may feel their best by opting for a high-fat, animal-based keto diet, others do well with high-carb vegetarian regimes.
And the fact of the matter is, keto diet helps manage signs and symptoms of many diseases. For example, diabetes, Parkinsonism, Alzheimer’s, epilepsy, autism, ADHD, and so on. A high-carb vegan diet is no help in such cases. Similarly, weight-watchers may not be able to combat uninvited hunger pangs without the support of animal-based high-protein foods.
However, that does not mean that if you are suffering from any of the conditions mentioned above or trying to shed some pounds, you cannot get the best of both diets.
A vegan keto diet caters to high-fat and protein food sources derived from plants. Simultaneously, the high-carb plant-based vegan food varieties are opted out in such a diet regime. It is pick-the-best-of-the-two! And it works.
Which Vegan Diets Go With Keto Diet?
A vegetarian diet accommodates diverse dietary lifestyles. From very strict to lenient, the plant-based diet categories include:
- Vegans; avoid all kinds of animal-based foods, including dairy, seafood, and honey
- Lacto-vegetarians; they make an allowance for dairy but avoid all other animal foods
- Lacto-Ovo vegetarians; such individuals consume dairy and eggs and avoid the rest
- Pescatarians; add seafood to their menus and eggs and dairy while dodging poultry and red meat.
Now the keto diet must complement your version of the vegetarian regime—the more liberal the vegetarian options, the more food choices we have. The strict vegan variety is low in specific nutrients, minerals, and vitamins. So the meal plans are based on whole grains, legumes, and seeds to compensate for the deficient nutrient content. These food options are not suited to the standard keto diet.
Recently, an Eco-Atkin version was put up for a trial comprised of lower carbohydrates than the average vegan diet (6). So if you think you can pull it off with low-carb, high-fat, and moderate proteins from plant-derived food sources, here are some rules to follow.
The Basics Of Keto Diet For Vegetarians
The good thing about the keto-vegan version is that the fundamentals remain the same—only the source of basic food components changes. Thanks to Mother Nature, there are plant-based fat and protein alternatives that support a vegan lifestyle. Here is what you need to ensure;
- Plan 70% of your caloric intake from plant-based fats
- Plant-based proteins should make up for 25% of your caloric intake.
- Restrict your total carbohydrate intake to 35 grams or less per day, limiting it to 5% of your total daily intake
- Cut back entirely on all animal products from your meal menus; a big NO to meat, fish, dairy, and eggs.
- Include only low-carb vegetables in your diet; take one to three servings twice a day.
- Supplement your diet; vitamins D3, B12, & B6, omega-3s, iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc, taurine, and so on.
The Dos and Don’ts Of Vegan-Keto Diet
Here is to making your vegan-keto lifestyle easy!
1. Carbohydrates for Vegan-Keto meals
If you are already following ketogenic meal plans, limiting carbohydrates should not be a problem. You may find the list a bit more restricting if you are already on a vegan schedule. But one got to do what needs to be done.
So while planning your carbohydrates intake, do not include;
- Grains like buckwheat and quinoa
- Legumes and pulses
- Tuber starchy veggies
Vegetables that grow above the ground are low in carbohydrates yet high in nutrients. Do include;
- Mushrooms of all kinds
- Green leafy veggies
- Other vegetables that grow above ground as broccoli, cauliflower, bell peppers, zucchini, cabbage, green beans, kale, lettuce, asparagus, celery, Bok Choy, cucumber, olives, okra, eggplant, etc.
- Fruits like Avocado and some berries; raspberries and blackberries · Fermented foods as Natto (fermented soy), sauerkraut, and Kimchi · Sea vegetables like dulse, bladderwrack, and kelp, etc.
2. Protein Sources of Vegan-Keto Diet
A vegan-keto regime leaves a minimal allowance of proteins because it cuts back on legumes, beans, lentils, and peas, significant sources of plant-based proteins.
So how do you compensate for that? Have a look at your options for vegan-keto friendly proteins;
- Tofu; made from soybean and high in proteins and calcium
- Tempeh; made from fermented soybeans and an excellent alternative protein source for fish and ground meat
- Seitan, also called ‘wheat meat,’ seitan is derived from wheat gluten, soy sauce (or tamari), ginger, garlic, and seaweed. Protein-rich, low-fat, and a good source of iron, seitan is the vegan meat for the keto lifestyle.
- Nuts; macadamia, brazil nuts, pecans, pine nuts, walnuts, pistachios, almonds, peanuts. Out of these, peanuts contain the lowest carbs, 16 grams per 100 grams, yet protein-rich.
- Seeds; Hemp seeds also make a low carb yet high protein snack. Some other varieties include sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, and flaxseeds. Nuts and seeds should be taken in moderation.
- Vegan protein powders; for those who are allergic to soy and gluten, vegan protein powders make a fair protein contribution to a vegan-keto regime. For example, pea protein isolates.
- Edamame beans are another protein option from soy.
3. Fats fit for a vegan-keto diet
Fats are the primary source of energy for the body in a keto diet. Fortunately, there are plenty of plant-based fat sources that complement a vegan diet.
- Olive oil, great at enhancing flavors, olive oil, can be used for cooking, baking, frying, or as a salad dressing.
- Coconut oil, containing long and medium-chain saturated fatty acids, is suitable for baking and cooking.
- MCT oil is another good fat source that is derived from coconut and palm oil.
- Red palm oil; this carrot-flavored oil with its creamy butter-like texture is enriched with vitamins A and E.
- Avocado oil, rich in healthy monounsaturated fats and avocado oil, has the highest smoke point, making it best to cook, frying, and bake.
- Avocado; contains high amounts of monounsaturated fat, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants, thereby making to the list of whole food fat sources of a vegan-keto diet.
- Nuts; best fat-rich source among the nuts are macadamia nuts; they cater to a healthy amount of vitamins and minerals.
- Seeds, seeds of pumpkin and sunflower, sesame seeds, flaxseeds, and chia seeds are some other healthy high-fat additions to the vegan ketogenic diet.
4. Dairy alternatives for vegan-keto diet
Keto diet usually features high-fat recipes with eggs, cheese, and butter as staple items. So what to do when following the keto diet if you are a vegetarian? Here are your options;
- Replace milk with coconut milk, almond, or soy milk
- Use coconut cream instead of heavy cream.
- Use coconut oil, almond, or peanut butter in place of regular butter. · Use vegan cheese made from tree-nut based sources like coconut or cashew. · Go for ready-made vegan egg replacements available in the market.
- Use flaxseed flour or silken tofu to make suitable egg replacements in baking recipes.
5. Condiments and spices
Make your meals full of flavor to satisfy your taste buds with these condiments and spices. Herbs of all kinds can also be used.
- Hot sauce
- Chili sauce
- Soy sauce
Any Drawbacks Of Keto Diet For Vegetarians
The vegan diet opponents state their arguments because the vegan diet is low in essential amino acids and high-quality proteins (7). The diet also lacks the necessary vitamins and minerals due to its limiting effects on specific food sources.
When a vegan diet is coupled with a keto diet, it further restricts the food sources by eliminating high-quality animal food sources. This puts a strain on the body’s nutrient reserves, including essential amino acids, vitamins, and proteins. Some of the vital vitamins and minerals that a vegan diet lacks include vitamin B12, vitamin D, vitamin K2, zinc, omega-3 fats, iron, and calcium.
However, careful planning of food resources ensures that the vegan-keto meal plans contain adequate food elements. It is crucial to rely on fortified and whole food items instead of opting for processed, ready-made meals.
If you are eating high-quality vegetarian protein sources and plenty of very-low-carb vegetables, you should meet the diverse nutrient requirements aptly. Still, some may not find planning and devising a vegan-keto diet as efficiently as required. In such a case, supplementing your diet with essential vitamins and minerals is a must.
Vegan and keto diets are at either end of the dietary spectrum; vegans rely on plant-based foods while the keto’s staples are animal-based fats and proteins. If you are enthusiastic about animal rights and do not prefer high-carb foods simultaneously, then merging keto and vegan lifestyles is a feat to achieve, but it is possible. All you need is careful meal planning and supplementing the diet if necessary, and you are good to go.
“I have the metabolism of a sloth and a body that hates putting on muscles. This curse motivated me to study weight loss and nutrition. I want to share my experiences and knowledge to help you achieve your ideal body.”— Christian Tanobey